My buddy Jeff Goldberg thinks Atlantis isn't pushing hard enough on Islam and Ft. Hood:
A consensus seems to have formed here at The Atlantic that the Ft. Hood massacre means not very much at all. Megan McArdle writes that "there is absolutely no political lesson to be learned from this." James Fallows says: "The shootings never mean anything. Forty years later, what did the Charles Whitman massacre 'mean'? A decade later, do we 'know' anything about Columbine?" And the Atlantic Wire has already investigated the motivation for the shooting, and released its preliminary findings. Of Nidal Malik Hasan, the Wire states: "A 39-year-old Army psychiatrist, he appears to have not been motivated by his Muslim religion, his Palestinian heritage (he is American by nationality), or any related political causes...
I am not arguing, of course, that American Muslims, as a whole, are violently unhappy with America (I've argued the opposite, in fact). But I do think that elite makers of opinion in this country try very hard to ignore the larger meaning of violent acts when they happen to be perpetrated by Muslims. Here's a simple test: If Nidal Malik Hasan had been a devout Christian with pronounced anti-abortion views, and had he attacked, say, a Planned Parenthood office, would his religion have been considered relevant as we tried to understand the motivation and meaning of the attack? Of course. Elite opinion makers do not, as a rule, try to protect Christians and Christian belief from investigation and criticism. Quite the opposite. It would be useful to apply the same standards of inquiry and criticism to all religions.
I think this mostly hinges on what "means" means. If we grant that Hasan was motivated by religion, what does that actually tell us? What is there beyond the fact that people will, at times, interpret religion as a justification to commit heinous acts?
Jeff asks what we'd say if a devout Christian had attacked Planned Parenthood. Fair enough--we have a pretty good corollary in George Tiller. I could be wrong, but I don't recall a lot of "media elites" trying to divine what Tiller's death said about Christianity, itself. Again, beyond the fact that some wacko interpreted Christianity to mean he had the right to shoot people, what else would there be to say?
That's really my issue. What is the big "thing" that we should be seeing, in this case? What are those elite blinders preventing us from seeing?
UPDATE: This post was unclear--George Tiller was the victim, not the killer. Scott Roeder was the killer. Sorry about the confusion
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